Who is the best high school boys basketball player in Southern California over the past 20 years? Over the next two weeks we’ll give you a chance to decide.
Our 32-player bracket tips off Tuesday with first-round matchups in the Ed Azzam region. In this matchup, Santa Margarita’s James Keefe, a six seed, takes on Westchester’s Amir Johnson, a three seed.
Here’s a look at the matchup:
(6) James Keefe, Santa Margarita
Keefe was a McDonald’s All-America honoree as a senior. He helped lead Santa Margarita to CIF titles as a sophomore and junior and his team advanced to a third CIF title game as a senior. In 2006 Keefe averaged 19.0 points and 11.5 rebounds, along with nearly 3.0 assists a game. He saved his best games for the playoffs, scoring 25 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in a victory over Gahr HS (of Cerritos) in the CIF-SS Division III-AA quarterfinals. Keefe played college basketball at UCLA.
(3) Amir Johnson, Verbum Dei and Westchester
Johnson didn’t begin playing high school basketball until his sophomore season when he attended Verbum Dei and he led his team to the Southern Section Division IV-A championship. He then transferred to Westchester, but had to sit out as a junior. As a senior, Johnson dominated leading Westchester to LA City and State championships in 2005. He averaged 21 points, 15 rebounds, and eight blocked shots a game that season and was named Mr. Basketball in California and a McDonald’s All American. He then went straight to the NBA, despite being committed to Louisville, where he was drafted by the Detroit Pistons.